Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Greenock Morton

The Scottish colloquial term for failing to find the net with relative success is “you couldnae hit a coo’s erse with a banjo.” This phrase painful describes the Pars whether it be from the spot or from open play. It does not extend to their opponents who demolished Beith Juniors with consummate ease in the Scottish Cup.

When you are as accurate from the spot as Stevie Wonder in a firing range armed with a  Kalashnikov, it is of little surprise to see Dunfermline in the position that they are on the cusp of the festive flurry of fixtures. It is the second game this season in which Athletic have left points on the park because of multiple penalties being saved. No matter which way you look at it, 2/13 on attempts from 12 yards out in the league since Allan Johnston arrived is a mathematical anomaly that not even Neil deGrasse Tyson would able to rationalise.

For Jim Duffy’s men they do not even need to worry about penalties to get results (one received at 4-0 and scored) as they have shown on their way to sit third in the table having been unbeaten in the last nine league outing; after starting out without a win in five. It looks at this moment in time that themselves, Raith Rovers and perhaps Falkirk will be battling out for those last two Premiership playoff spots. A scrap that a lot of Morton fans would have happily took at the start of the campaign.

Keys to the game

While it looks like a middling squad on paper, Ross Forbes is a fantastic threat from set pieces and Thomas O’Ware is in the form of his life. However, it took till mid September for Jim Duffy to notice his system was not working. It was then he elected for a 4-4-2 instead of the 4-4-1-1 and 4-3-3 that failed to yield the desired results. They debuted this formation at Cappielow against the Pars when Jai Quitongo scored the winner, and the former Hibernian manager has rarely deviated from it since.

Ricky Lamie tends to sits with Gavin Gunning and Lee Kilday to allow Michel Doyle to push up the right flank as the left footed Forbes will tend to drift centrally while the opposite happens on the left with Mark Russell keeping the width and challenging the opposition’s right back. Quitongo will tend to drift around the forward areas with Gary Oliver being the more centrally based of the pair.

While similar to their opponents, Dunfermline’s problem is the two in the midfield that do not help the back line as their first instincts are not defensive minded. This could be partly rectified with Nat Wedderburn returning to the starting eleven. Although, that does not help the problem at right back as well with Andy Geggan and Ryan Williamson struggling to be fit for the game while Lewis Martin is suspended. Conor Duthie – who was a make shift full back last weekend – or Euan Spark from the U20s may have to step into the breach for this one. 

Kallum Higginbotham could help out his right flank partner by pushing Russell back towards his goal at every opportunity and peg the Ton in their own half starving Quitongo of the ball. Although, finding the only goalscoring threat the Pars have in the guise of Nicky Clark will be difficult seeing as Duffy will have the guile to make it extremely difficult for Sandy’s son to operate in between the lines. 

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Saturday, 15:00. East End Park

South stand: Adults £19, Concessions £13, U12s £7.
All other stands: Adults £17, Concessions £11, U12s £5.

Confirmed line ups

Team News

Dunfermline Athletic:

Andy Geggan and Ben Richards-Everton (injured)
David Hopkirk (match fitness)
Lewis Martin (suspended)

Greenock Morton:

Conor Pepper (injured)

Referee

Stephen Finnie.

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“We have to pick ourselves up and make sure that we are really up for it. It will be a massive game and we need the fans to get right behind us. You can see the position that we are in, it is not good enough we should be a lot higher in the league.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Greenock Morton are saying

“The gaffer is aware that I am always ready when called upon, whether I am starting or I am on the bench. I will always look to come on and make an impact. Obviously every player wants to play every game, I want to start every game. But I know that if I do not start, if I come on, I will try and make a good impact on the pitch to impress the gaffer.” (Kudus Oyenuga, center forward)

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Ross Forbes.

Former Greenock Morton players

David Hutton and Paul McMullan.

Common fixtures

Dunfermline Athletic:

1-0 v Dundee United (A)
2-2 v Dumbarton (A)
2-1 v Falkirk (A)
4-3 v St Mirren
1-1 v Ayr United
0-0 v Raith Rovers
1-0 v Dundee United (A)
0-0 v Ayr United (A)
2-1 v Hibernian (A)
4-3 v Dumbarton

0-1 v St Mirren (A)

Points: 13

Greenock Morton:

0-0 v Dundee United
0-2 v Dumbarton (A)
1-1 v Falkirk (A)
3-1 v St Mirren
2-1 v Ayr United
1-0 v Raith Rovers
2-1 v Dundee United (A)
2-1 v Ayr United (A)
4-0 v Hibernian (A)
1-1 v Dumbarton
1-1 v St Mirren (A)

Points: 16

Last five meetings

Championship:

17 September 2016: Greenock Morton 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

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League One:

28 March 2015: Dunfermline Athletic 0-4 Greenock Morton
24 January 2015: Greenock Morton 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic
25 October 2014: Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Greenock Morton
20 September 2014: Greenock Morton 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Championship Fixtures (15:00 KO)

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Table

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Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Greenock Morton

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 9/5 Draw 11/4 Greenock Morton 16/11

Best bet

Both teams to score @ 4/6


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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